The U.S. district judge presiding over the case of a notorious drug lord has denied his request to hug his wife before the start of his trial, citing concerns over a potential prison escape and security.
According to a letter Defense Attorney Mariel Colon Miro sent the judge presiding over the case Tuesday, the alleged Mexican drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, just wants to "embrace" his wife before his trial begins.
In the letter addressed to U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan, Miro writes “to request that Mr. Guzman be allowed to give his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, a brief momentary greeting to include perhaps an embrace on Tuesday, November 13th right before the beginning of the opening statements. It can be a brief embrace in open court with the courtroom railing between them.”
Miro says the “humanitarian gesture” request is being made given that Guzman has not been allowed any contact with his wife by telephone or in person since his arrival to New York.
In Cogan’s reply letter, dated Thursday, the judge writes in part: “The Court is sympathetic to the request. As defense counsel points out, defendant’s conduct during what are surely difficult proceedings and conditions of confinement for him has been exemplary, and he has displayed considerable grace under pressure. Nevertheless, having conferred extensively with the U.S. Marshals Service about defendant’s request, the Court is constrained to deny it. The Marshals have stressed that acceding to the request would be contrary to all the security procedures that have been put in place.”
The letter additionally states that the [Special Administrative Measures] involved in the case “are tailored to the Government’s legitimate objectives of preventing defendant from coordinating any escape from prison or directing any attack on individuals who might be cooperating with the Government.”
In the original request letter, Miro produced a glimpse into Guzman’s life behind bars since his detainment of nearly two years at MCC in solitary confinement.
“Mr. Guzman has been confined to a very small, windowless cell for 23 hours a day Mondays through Fridays and 24 hours a day during the weekend. Except for legal visits, Mr. Guzman has been completely isolated. As a result, Mr. Guzman’s mental and emotional health have deteriorated,” a portion of the letter reads.
“It is well known that solitary confinement possess negative effect to a person's sanity. It is of dire concern that Mr. Guzman's deterioration of his mental and emotional health could lead potentially to a problem in his ability to effectively assist in his defense,” Miro’s letter continues.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges that his Sinaloa cartel smuggled tons of cocaine and other drugs, laundered billions of dollars and oversaw a ruthless campaign of murders and kidnappings. He faces life in prison if convicted. Opening statements in the trial are expected Nov. 13.